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Having just finished my third semester here, I have to say that while there are many things I can't stand about AU, I couldn't see myself anywhere else.I couldn't give an accurate picture about the academics; I'm only in intro classes right now, and those, to be honest, are a joke. I showed up to one midterm high, having not studied at all, and still got an A [results not typical, study for your exams!!!]. However, for my own major of political science, I'm really looking forward to some of the upper levels courses. There are not many universities that offer undergrad courses like
Political Speechwriting,for example. The pickings for international relations courses are just as fruitful.And while AU is known best for political science and IR, it has a number of other solid programs that for some reason it just doesn't talk up much, including the #13 pre-med program in the country, one of the top 50 business schools for undergrads, and a solid audio tech program featuring a $2 million recording studio (one of the best in the country on a college campus) tucked away in the basement of a building that hardly anyone ever goes into.The opportunities that I've had here have been great too. In just my first semester, I was able to visit a bunch of different religious services (including a Zoroastrian harvest festival), record some tunes written by a composer friend in the aforementioned studio, and befriend a former member of Spain's parliament. DC is an incredible city, and if you know where to look, opportunities will fall into your lap. But you need to be willing to leave campus. There is never much that is going on there, and that's a good thing. You're in one of the most exciting cities in the world; you'd be dumb to not take advantage of that.What I ultimately dislike about AU is the attitude that the administration instills in its students. I know lots of adults like to make this criticism, but it's students here are coddled, and it really hurts their development. I am a flaming progressive, a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter, and I still believe this to be true. Students here don't know how to work for stuff; they expect it to be done for them. They love protesting, but once they've gotten attention for whatever their cause is that week, they don't know how to do the less glamorous work that is necessary for lasting change. So they move on to the next trendy source of "oppression" and the cycle repeats itself. Put simply, AU is full of students who do the right things for the wrong reasons.Now granted, any college is going to have a sizable population of students like this, but because AU markets itself as the most politically active university in America and does all it can to attract these ambitious, never-satisfied students, the majority of AU students are like this.But my advice to you, reader, is this: ignore all of that. If you want to do good in the world, come to AU. Don't let the way other people think or do things put you off. AU is too big a place to have everyone be the same, even if there is a large, vocal population that try to convince you otherwise. Even if the picture that I just painted above sounds terrible, it isn't the path you have to follow. I'm using the opportunities I've been given to make positive changes in other ways, and you can too.I struggled early on at AU because I couldn't find a community. I came from a really tight-knit high school where we all looked after each other to a degree and bonded over our dislike of the administration. AU doesn't have that, but, if you're willing to look hard enough, somewhere you'll find a tight-knit group that will support you (Greek life is a good place to start; don't buy into AU's smear campaign against it. While some frats are terrible, most of them don't haze and treat their party guests very well). Being a part of something bigger than yourself works wonders for mental health and can provide you with a sense of purpose. That's something you'll definitely need to find in college, no matter where you go.I've found that at AU, many of us often forget to be happy. We're so caught up in the world's problems that we forget to take care of ourselves. So if you want to do well at AU, take time to laugh and have fun. Do stuff that you want to do, not just what you feel you need to do to advance your career or whatever.AU definitely isn't a traditional, crazy state school. It's certainly not for everyone. But you will get out of it what you put into it. Whatever you want out of your college experience, whether here or elsewhere, it's probably there. Just go after it. Don't wait for it to be done for you.